Ménage a Trois: Querelle and Jules

Today we’re taking a stab at two fragrances with a niche fan base: Parfumerie Generale’s new(ish) Querelle, and Christian Dior’s hard-to-find men’s fragrance, Jules, from 1980. Are they the sexy/raunchy things they’re purported to be?

Querelle, part of the PG Private Collection, is named after the novel (Querelle de Brest) by author Jean Genet, and a 1982 film adaptation by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, with a plotline so confusing that six readings of the brief summary on Wikipedia left one of your blogmistresses puzzled (although she’s pretty sure she saw the flick at college, along with such classics as In The Realm of the Senses and Last Tango in Paris.) According to LuckyScent, “inspired by Jean Genet´s brutal and erotic tale of hidden desires and violence, Querelle is a scent of supreme elegance and forceful sensuality.” Notes are: citrus, Iranian black caraway, myrrh, cinnamon, Haitian vetiver, incense, oakmoss, ambergris.

  • Lee: It’s a chypre for sure, and even if I like chypres, they often give me the mother of all headaches. So, I sniff this beauty, marvel at the playfully soapy / barber shoppy opening (that smells like some version of the past), and am about to admire the transitions when wham! bam! the throb begins and queasiness comes along holding its hand. So it’s difficult for me to be properly subjective about this scent. I love how it works vetiver, I love the dark menace underneath the clean, but my body is in rebellion when I sniff it. It’s the chypre effect. I’m not sure how I relate it to Jean Genet’s Querelle, but that film bored me I think (I only have a hazy recollection, but Fassbinder’s quasi-mystical masochism has never appealed). I haven’t read the book. Much more impressive was Genet’s own prison film (off to wiki it) Un Chant d’Amour. Anyone seen it? Very EROTIC. Overall though, I’d prefer a Genet scent based on the late 60s onwards, when he got all politicised. I can only do so much existential angst.
  • Patty: I know I smelled this months ago and didn’t like it (hated it!) and gave it away (to you, March?). Now it’s back. I do get raunch – more buttcrack than siren – and that open just makes me slightly queasy, but this time it seems to blow off pretty quickly and leaves me with…. a scent I really like. How in the heck did that happen?
  • March: This is the fierce, brutally erotic raunch-factory I’ve been reading about? Okay, I must be damaged, because I think it smells gorgeous — bold proportions that instantly conjured another classic, Guerlain Mitsouko, minus the peach at the top. The drydown gets rich and spicy, ultimately winding up on a fairly intense, more-or-less masculine note of vetiver. Lovely. I am completely missing the raunch You hardcore chypre/oriental types should check this out.

Jules is a much-sought-after men’s fragrance from 1980, hard to find, possibly discontinued? (Note from L: you can get it easily in Paris, ma cherie, so my grapevine tells me.) It contains galbanum, black pepper, cedarwood, sandalwood, and Russian leather. March wonders, based on pretty much nothing, whether this fragrance was inspired by Jules et Jim, the French New Wave classic (hey, another menage a trois!) from 1961.

  • Patty: Okay, this stuff is hot. I feel like I just got transported to Pamplona and the running of the Bulls, and I’m not sure I mean the four-legged kind. Spicy and a little rank in a horsey sort of way, I’m thinking this is how Pullo would have smelled (Rome is over – sob!). It just screams for some brute with a swagger and the soul of a poet – or not – to wear it.
  • March: I thought between the galbanum and cedar this would be a scrubber. Instead it reminds me, variously, of: the incense-y bits of Chanel 22; the leathery sparkle of vintage Kolnisch Juchten without the smoked meat; and a drydown I’ll Call Two Tons of Incense and You’ve Got Wood. Particularly interesting because on me it has sort of reverse development: I get the big guns of peppery leather up front, drying down into the lighter incense. Really, what is it about this juice that makes it so sensual? Lee, no offense, but are you sure you labeled this right? Why am I getting all this incense? Also, do you want to sell me your bottle? Seriously — I’m blowing through this particular nose-candy at a terrifying pace.
  • Lee: I had convinced myself that the sample I sent the posse women was on the turn – it has the same quality as the drops of Guerlain’s Derby I have (which, by the way, is a men’s chypre I love, in case anyone feels like splurging on a 140€ bottle for me). However, then I wondered actually whether this is a turn, or just how both of these early 80s numbers start out – pretty sour and peculiar. And I’m sure it is, if my olfactory memory is right – Jules has an oddness to its opening that you don’t find in many men’s scents nowadays. It makes no excuses about manliness – it smells a bit sweaty (and not in the fresh-out-of-the-shower-into-a-hot-sunny-day-kind-of-way), earthy, leathery, bullish. As it dries down, it becomes softer and more of a gentle caress. Damn it though, it’s still virile, and that gentle stroke could go all thrusty any moment. Right, I’m off to curl my somewhat limited chest hair.

image: Jules et Jim, www.arnadal.no

45 Comments
Amarie March 29, 2007

Hiya guys, I love your menage a trois reviews so please keep them up. It is excellent to get your varied view on perfumes so there is a greater insight on how they are built and work and appeal to different people. I thought I was finally building a not bad catalogue of scents but now here are two more to go on my must try list. I am trying to ration myself and carefully list all those samples for the next buy and then I spot something on ebay and all my good intentions go out the window.:">

Cait March 29, 2007

You guys always make me cheery. I love Querelle and could see wearing it a lot this summer if I found a bottle calling my name in my local Nordstrom. I am so lucky I have to make an effort to purchase a lot of these super exclusive cosmopolitan perfumes. If I lived in a city I'd be even more broke than I am. Denyse and I sampled Jules in the Sephora in Paris near Guerlain. I liked it. It had an air of quality.

Katie March 29, 2007

Jules is such an underrated oldie but goodie. I think what gets me about it is the tobacco note in the heart. It smells a little dated in a way, but it's such a wonderful smell that it seems almost gauche to even mention it. After the top burns off, you're left with such a dark rich fragrance... what a pity that it seems to be slowly disappearing. I love the old Gruau ads ) for Jules so much, too.

tmp00 March 28, 2007

Going to have to try Querelle. Jules looks as if he's quite pricey on the internets. Oh well. :((

BBliss March 28, 2007

Must try these - am a chypre-kind of gal. And, I generally like galbanum - it's in a couple of old favorites. Seemed to be used more in the 80's and early 90's. Anyone know why?

Robin March 28, 2007

Jules is just great stuff. Querelle is something else -- and I still can't make up my mind about it. I think I'm giving up, I have already changed my mind so many times that it doesn't matter anymore.

Jennifer March 28, 2007

Ah, a scent to remind you Pullo! Heh! Now to scent all of the Rome cast, Atia screams Fracas or Poison or something so over the top in price.

Kelly March 28, 2007

"As it dries down, it becomes softer and more of a gentle caress. Damn it though, it’s still virile, and that gentle stroke could go all thrusty any moment." OMG... I'm... [fanning self] feeling a bit week in the knees... someone catch me and wave some of this under my nose!

Flor March 28, 2007

I was just blown away by your reviews on Jules. Hubba, hubba! I'm not familiar with Querelle, but I will be very soon as I am a huge chypre fan. I'm just hoping my skin reacts to it the way March's does. I'm not a fan of a whole lot of skank, and Patty, your description sounds like it would be a little much for me. I like skank in small doses. Lee's description is really sad, I would hate to be allergic to chypres. I can't imagine my life without them. I feel for you.

Marina March 28, 2007

Querelle is hot, Jules is HOT, you three are Hotter. It's a Hawt day on Perfume Posse :x

Solander March 28, 2007

Here's another one not finding Querelle the slightest bit raunchy. In fact, I don't think it's a chypre nor an oriental. When I think of chypre I think of something herbal and aromatic with oakmoss, perhaps a bit vintage-styled dry and musty (in a good way) not something straightforwardly green. And Querelle is to me straightforwardly green, a single note vetiver (albeit a dark and masculine vetiver) after the lemon pledge topnote. Jules sounds like a must-try! I'm thinking of visiting Paris this summer... I might have to go from London to Bologna anyway so why not make a few stops? (Oh my god the perfume shopping, no, SNIFFING, along the way... Paris! Andy Tauer in Zurich! Milano! And Lee - I'm moving to York this autumn. Any special perfume shopping tips in York and/or London? I like places that have a good assortment of niche brands but that are not too snobby and exclusive, not tiny, über-designed places where you feel like a tramp in the eyes of the ever watchful clerk... Not even if the clerk in question is helpful and smiling - I prefer to sniff around in peace and preferably get lost in a crowd of not-too-chic tourists...

Elle March 28, 2007

Like March and Judith, I don't get the raunch from Querelle - just gorgeousness. However, I don't think I've ever smelled Jules. How is this possible when it sounds like something I'd sell the house for? Racing off to ebay to see just how much of the house will need to be sold.

Nina March 28, 2007

Querelle is a chypre? Really? Boy, I so suck at identifying chypres. I can't be much better at spotting Raunch, because Querelle struck me as a gentle, slightly sullen, dusky green scent. I'm seeing someone sulking (alone) in a shady clearing, enjoying a bit of luxurious self-pity. Perhaps it's raunchy in a 60s Julie Christie way? A lot of pouting and looking out the window? That would match with that slight whiff of 60s fougere...St.Michael English Fern Shower Gel (Brits will remember good old St. Michael?). Is it FBW..hmm...hmmm....

Dusan March 28, 2007

Haven't read the book or seen the flick (I share Lee's lack of enthusiasm for Fassbinder) so I don't get the raunch. What I do get out of Querelle, once the lemon-pledgey top notes settle down, is a beautiful dry incense, smoky vetiver and oakmoss, the whole tinged brownish green. Yep, I love it, might even wear it today (waves to March). Jules who? Verne? Sorry, don't know the guy :-) Hey, what's up with Bryan, is he no longer part of the Posse? Or the idea of a menage à quatre seems too risqué for you? ;-)

Judith March 28, 2007

I adore Querelle, but I never found it particularly raunchy. I get a metallic edge to it that I find very enticing, almost addictive. Jules IS definitely sensual, though--and also addictive! Love your menage!

Maria B. March 28, 2007

I'm worried about Lee's headache because I happen to know that he exchanged a bottle of a very precious substance for Querelle. I'd be a bit upset at my swap. I hope you're not allergic to oakmoss, Lee, because that's in a lot of great stuff. Corps et Ames coincided with a case of the sniffles recently, and I was relieved to learn that though it's a chypre, oakmoss is not listed in the notes. It could have been coincidence. I love your menage a trois days! Those are awfully silly-looking bathing outfits those guys have on. I almost miss the Stooges.